The Home Row Blog

News, notes and ramblings
from the Home Row team


Interrobang, the Coolest Mark of Punctuation We Never Use

Posted on November 3, 2011

It says it all

Posted By Sharon Ritchey

Oh! What are you?

Why am I so confused?

How do I find the right punctuation to use?

When I interject my feelings, I use an exclamation point.

When I’m confused, I use a question mark.

But what do I use when I’m confused and I need to shout? !

Then it hit me. Yes I understand.

Interrobang, Interrobang as my brain sang

(by Renee Ritchey)

Properly punctuated prose is polite. When you allow your reader to pause mid sentence with a comma or semicolon; realize you are asking a question with a question mark; or speaking dialogue with the use of double and sometimes single quotation marks, you are alerting the reader to the full intent of your words. Punctuation is powerful! But it is not foolproof. Take the notion of the rhetorical question. A question being asked where the answer is already known.

“John, I have some exciting news. We’re having a baby!” Mary said.

“What, you’re pregnant?!” John said.

Well, duh, yes, she’s pregnant. John’s statement was a rhetorical question. In this instance, I chose to punctuate it with both a question mark and an exclamation point. In formal writing you would only use the question mark. But just using the question mark fails to alert the reader to the full impact of the statement.

Enter the interrobang a mark of punctuation created by advertising executive Martin Speckler in 1962 that combined the question mark and exclamation point into one symbol. It was quite the in mark to use through the 1960s and made it’s way onto a few qwerty keyboards as well as into the dictionary.

In this age of texts, tweets, and 24 hours of over the top news stories, perhaps it’s time to bring this most modern mark back to the keyboard as a way to fully express our emotions. R U ready?! I think we R!

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply


What is the home row?

The home row is the center row of keys on the keyboard "A,S,D,F,J,K,L,;" When students are taught how to become touch typists (typing without looking at the keys) they begin with their hands resting on the home row. The left hand rests on the "A,S,D,F" keys and the right hand on the "J,K,L,;" keys. From this position the other keys can be reached.